Caesar III

Ancient Rome. A time when life was one long toga party, and people had to pop out to take a bath. A bustling city where people built simple, square-pieced jigsaws and fobbed them off as mosaics, and where a gladiator wasn’t armed with an oversize cotton-bud and an ego problem. And it forms the heart of Caesar III, a SimCity-style game that charges you with recreating the ancient Roman Empire, in all its marbled glory, in a bid to become the next emperor. Donning toga, laurel crown and taking the chariot to work doesn’t automatically mean you’re cut out for Caesarship. There’s public health to manage, lions to goad for entertainment, aqueducts to build and legionnaires to train in order to build the heart of the Roman Empire. Add to this the need to collect taxes, forge overseas trade routes, please the gods, lay down plazas and keep the tributes pouring into Caesar himself, and you can quite quickly see why Nero picked up his fiddle while Rome was toasted. After this little lot, you’d probably dance a jig as well. The Caesar’s new clothes
Caesar III is like SimCity 2000, but with shiny, new clothes. You have to build a city from scratch, zoning housing, supplying essential services such as water, health, policing and defence, all in a bid to get people to stop roamin’ and start Roman. Later, you’ll have to manage taxes, tweak trade goods, establish markets and temples, hold Ben Hur-style chariot races, and even send your troops into battle. But, unlike SimCity, you can opt not only to just build a great city, but you can accept missions to build a certain city size, or repel barbarian invaders, for example. Graphically, Caesar III is no Brutus. Traders and farmers scurry across plazas, delivery boys call at evolving flats, laughter rises from perfectly formed baths, and fountains bubble in the streets. Your whole city evolves, with crops that mature and are harvested, while buildings either transform into palaces or collapse into rubble following an out-of-control fire. You get a lot for your money. A grab-bag of missions, the ability to roll your own map through the landscape editor, and an open-ended city-building mode that keeps going as long as you do. However, it does lose marks for lack of a multiplayer option, and sometimes the game can seem a little hard and unforgiving.

OUR VERDICT

The sheer attention to detail in Caesar III easily puts this near the top of the sim-game genre. Atmospheric audio, smart graphics, massive missions and maps, and some of the best-quality movies I’ve seen on a video game, really make this one game that you’ll play come rain or hail (Caesar).

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